According to the earliest records Glamis Castle was originally a hunting lodge owned by the Scottish Crown. Even before the castle was built, this ancient land was the scene of many historical events that have been traced back as far as the Picts’ habitation. It was here that St Fergus began his work of converting the wild, lawless heathens to Christianity, and later the Kings of Scots chose this lush forest as a favoured hunting ground. In 1034 King Malcom II died from battle wounds in the early Glamis Castle, and Macbeth also came to grief, as William Shakespeare’s famous dramatisation reveals. The first recorded granting of the thaneage of Glamis dates from 1264.
The Lyons came into possession of Glamis in 1372, when Robert the II granted the thaneage of Glamis to Sir John Lyon of Forteviot, as a reward for his services rendered to the crown. A royal hunting lodge pre-existed on the site already and was very different from the castle we see today. In 1376, Sir John married Joanna the king’s daughter. Shortly after he was appointed Chamberlain of Scotland, the most important office to the crown.
After his father was murdered, the second Sir John Lyon inherited Glamis, married the great granddaughter of Robert II, and began building the present castle. His son became the first Lord Glamis, and in 1606 the 9th Lord Glamis was created Earl of Kinghorne. Perhaps the toughest time was had by the 3rd Earl, who inherited huge debts, but was determined that his ancestral estate would be restored both decoratively and financially. Through his solid resolve, not only was the castle greatly improved, in some areas completely rebuilt, but he also gained a new charter of peerage and has since been known as Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
Sir John Lyon, the 2nd Earl, started construction of the main building after 1400. This is the east wing of the present day castle. Sir John’s decedents have lived at Glamis throughout the centuries, and it remains home to the Lyon family today. Glamis is most famous today as the childhood home to Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, and is the birth place of Princess Margaret (1930) who is the first royal baby born in Scotland in over 300 years.
Glamis castle is a splendid example of the `Scottish baronial’ style, an amalgam of the traditional Scottish tower house and the French Renaissance chateau, and is an example of the largely illusionary idea of a Gothic castle represented in French miniatures of the fifteenth century, a filigree of spires and turrets.